I wrote this short cycle of poems for my mother’s mother, Mildred Linton, late last year. My mom’s visit this week has reminded me of her again. The more time that passes since Grandmama’s death in 1996, the more Mom seems to think about her.
She raked the whole yard
into two great mounds of leaf
and dried pine needle. By herself
she transferred it all to the tarp
to drag down to the road.
As the last sun hit the low-pitched
roof, she inhaled deeply.
Because she loved the outdoors.
The ranch house was fully paid-for.
As everything in life should be.
No credit, never had it and never will.
Like money in a mattress,
Mama and Daddy had known.
“Never spend what you don’t have.”
There were good shows
on the local channel, talk shows
in the morning, a couple of soaps
(don’t watch too much)
and in the evening, often
something on PBS
She might pour
a dollop of whiskey
into her decaf
because an adult
can do that
from time to time.
A good fire. A nice
wool blanket. Nothing ever
thrown away. Waste not
want not. She carried the wood
herself, armful by armful.
One nightlight in the hall
in case something wakes you.
Ice milk instead of ice cream.
It’s good for you. On occasion,
a Coca-cola, or a glass
In back, a big garden, fig tree
taller than the house, hiding a rubber snake
to keep out the crows. A wide swath
of open earth for digging worms
because the children enjoy fishing.
We’d arrive with our loud voices
not having been told
to be seen and not heard
as she was. She would never
have spoken to an adult first.
But we would run to her
She’d get out the old pink ball
for soccer games. At 77,
she could still play.